Dana White had his Oprah Winfrey moment at week two of this year’s Contender Series run. All five winners on Tuesday night earned UFC contracts, including Impa Kasanganay, who was making his second attempt to impress the UFC boss.
It worked. Despite going to a decision for the second time on Dana White’s Contender Series, Kasanganay (7-0) earned a deal. In part because of his willingness to fight. Kasanganay will fight on August 22, part of the Frankie Edgar vs. Pedro Munhoz card.
“The guy’s 26 years old and he’s 7-0. He’s going right into his prime right now. To say ‘hey go back out in small shows’ — and the problem with this kid is, apparently no one in the small shows wants to fight him,” White said following the Contender Series event, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press.
White noted that Kasanganay had seen several opponents back out on the regional scene lately. No small part in why he hadn’t fought since his 2019 Contender Series bout against Kailan Hill.
“On the smaller circuits, people don’t want to fight this kid,” he added later. Any reservations, he added, will be answered on the 22nd.
And while some had speculated White might pair up Kasanganay with Uriah Hall, who apparently needs an opponent, that’s not the case. “He’s going to fight Maki Pitolo,” White revealed. Another Contender Series alum, who just lost to Darren Stewart.
Five contracts being handed out Tuesday might have surprised many observers. But for White, it might actually be a relief. “The sh*ttiest part of the show is telling people ‘no.’ Saying ‘congratulations, you didn’t get it.’ It’s the worst part of the show,” he admitted. With that in mind, “tonight was a good night,” White added.
Another UFC staple is set to return, though a date has yet to be announced: The Ultimate Fighter. Some have questioned why the promotion doesn’t simply serve up more of the Contender Series. On that front, White explained that “I can’t run the Contender Series all year long. Especially now, in this pandemic, these smaller events aren’t even going on right now. So the fact that those aren’t happening really does hurt the Contender Series. You need these fights happening every weekend.”
“So yeah, there’s definitely room for the Ultimate Fighter while the Contender Series isn’t going,” he continued. “You have to have a good year off for the Contender Series, for the pond to fill back up and find some new talent.”